Originally published February 4, 2013 at 03:18p.m., updated February 5, 2013 at 12:12a.m.

KU’s Elijah Johnson says Sunday’s three-hour team meeting with head coach was productive

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson elevates to throw a pass as Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte defends during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson elevates to throw a pass as Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte defends during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Kansas University senior basketball point guard Elijah Johnson was in need of a pick-me-up on Sunday, the day after his turnover on KU’s final possession proved pivotal in a rare Jayhawk loss in Allen Fieldhouse.

“Usually I don’t,” Johnson said, asked if he required a pep talk or two during the course of a season. “But yesterday I did, and coach (Bill Self) gave it to me. I didn’t realize until I went home that’s what I got. He gave me one.”

Self spoke to Johnson and the rest of the Jayhawks during a three-hour team meeting in the fieldhouse that took place after the Wilt Chamberlain Special Olympics Clinic.

“We talked a lot yesterday. We talked a whole lot yesterday,” Johnson said.

Self naturally had a lot on his mind after an 85-80 setback to Oklahoma State, KU’s first home loss in 34 contests and second in the last 104 outings in Allen.

“I like the confidence he (Self) is putting in me. I know he’s still riding with me no matter what. I’m just trying to grow up right now,” the slumping Johnson added.

Self on Monday said Johnson will remain the No. 5-ranked Jayhawks’ starting point guard.

“He’s my guy,” Self said. “He hasn’t played as well as he is capable of playing. I think in our situation, we should judge our point guard more by his record (19-2) than we do his stats. And I do know this: For us to have any chance of being a national contender and competing at the highest level, your best players have to play well, and he is without question one of our best players. He is my guy. I’m going to ride him, and it doesn’t make any difference what happens, statistically, as long as I know he is trying and cares. He is my guy and will remain my guy, period.”

Self didn’t stop there.

“I look at the (Super Bowl champion Baltimore) Ravens. How many games did they lose this year? Seven or six? They lost three in a row, and they didn’t bench (QB Joe) Flacco,” Self said. “You look at the Giants last year. They lost seven. They were 9-7 and win the Super Bowl, and I don’t think (head coach Tom) Coughlin was benching Eli (QB Manning).

“I think sometimes losses are OK as long as you get better through them. I think losing at home, to be honest, was good for us. If I was going to pick to lose on the road or at home, I would pick at home because it would definitely be more of a humbling experience than it would be if it didn’t happen at home. I don’t want to lose — don’t get me wrong — but I think for our team, our mind-set and psyche, I think it was probably good for us to be humbled.”

As far as other messages in the meeting in the fieldhouse, Johnson explained: “We sat over there for about three hours talking about what we didn’t do hard, what we did do hard, and it balanced out the wrong way. They outplayed us. There were a couple plays he showed us where players from their team were diving on the ball, and there were four people on our team standing around watching them do it. The same thing with rebounds.

“Everything on the court falls back on me. I never rallied our team at the end of the game. I blame that loss on me 100 percent because no matter what was going on in timeouts on the court, regardless, a senior guard always rallies the team up and gets the fieldhouse to turn up and take care of the job. I never did that. I had a blank face out there, and I didn’t like that at all.”

Johnson said he was struggling about this time last year as well — Self noted that his stats are similar — and turned it around. He said he’ll fix the problem at practice.

“Personally I don’t think I’m doing a good job at practice,” Johnson said. “I’m kind of pacing myself, and it’s coming back to haunt me now. I think that’s what I’m struggling with now.”

Johnson, who said his surgically repaired knee is 100 percent, said his confidence will be helped when he starts hitting shots. As far as the team? He said the Jayhawks have been taking for granted the fact they’ll pull out games, especially at home.

“It’s losing focus, getting used to stealing those games like that,” Johnson said. “Not really finishing it out and still coming out with a win. We were way too comfortable. I felt we needed that. From a team point of view, we thought we couldn’t be touched here. We thought at the end of the game no matter what we’d have more points. Oklahoma State showed us different.

“It probably was the worst place to happen, the worst team to do it to us, but we needed it. I definitely think we’re going to show what we learned from that game in a couple weeks or so.”

Ben’s future: Self discussed the possibility of Ben McLemore’s heading to the NBA after this season. McLemore and his AAU coach/mentor have been quoted by the Journal-World saying they will not even think about the pros until this season is complete.

“I would recommend Ben definitely explore, and hopefully he’ll want us to help him,” Self said on his “Hawk Talk” radio show. “Then he must make a decision where he thinks he’ll be at age 20, 25, 30, 35 and if another year helps him accomplish his goals or going ahead and getting out and starting to earn a paycheck would be the best thing for he and his family. I would never say, ‘Stay,’ (to Ben) because his family has sacrificed an awful lot for him to be in this position.

“The kid is a unique kid. You never know,” Self added. “When he studies everything ... one thing we know about Ben, he’s going to be great next year, too. His draft stock (projected top-five pick) isn’t going to go down because he stays. His draft stock is going to be great next year, too. It’s going to keep getting better because he’s so gifted athletically.”

Next: KU will meet TCU at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Fort Worth, Texas.

Practice important: Andrew White III, whose six points in the final minute almost saved the day vs. OSU, on what’s ahead: “Everybody knows it starts today. We have to have good practices, and we have to come out a lot faster in the game. Performance-wise, we’ve been walking on that fine line between winning and losing for a long time. As a team, we feel we were overdue for a loss based on how we were playing. In practice, we’re going to try to clean it up and keep doing what coach is telling us to do and try to get a streak going.”


Jim Erickson 6 years, 1 month ago

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess there was a removal

GabrielMichael 6 years, 1 month ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Jason Wilson 6 years, 1 month ago

He's going to be the guy, win or lose. Fans can get down on him, writers can get down on him, it doesn't change the circumstances.

He's one of my favorite Jayhawks because of his body of work as a whole, and his attitude throughout the time he's been here. I'll keep cheering him on regardless of what happens.

Dude's been a favorite of mine since his freshman year when he showed off his athleticism with an ankle-breaker and a dunk vs Nebraska. Or when he earned himself a technical with a stare-down on a guy who had +6 inches and +70 pounds on him after he threw down a nasty alley-oop. I didn't even care that we could have won that game and the T hurt us... I wanted us to have that attitude.

This team is going to go wherever he takes it this year, and I trust him with it.

John Boyle 6 years, 1 month ago

It's not worth losing a game just to be "macho" The T was stupid then and would be in any circumstance. Stare-downs accomplish nothing.

John White 6 years, 1 month ago

I don't know. Doesn't the committee put a huge weight on how many times a member of your team stared down the other team and got T'd taunting the other team?

Michael Bratisax 6 years, 1 month ago

Without doubt. Implied willingness but without any actual overt act is right up there with strength of schedule.

Benz Junque 6 years, 1 month ago

Dear Elijah,

Please do not feel that there an expectation from the fanbase to WIN. There is only an expectation of effort, focus and desire. We love our KU basketball and every fan out there would sell their kidney to be able to do what you get to do.

We only ask that you take advantage of the opportunity and do everything possible to compete at your best. To represent the efforts of the fans that work their butts off to be able to buy a ticket to watch you play, the fans all over the country and the world that support KU basketball like a religion.

If you pour your heart into practice, preparation and game and still lose, we will still love you, cheer for you and respect you. Just respect the opportunity that you have and put everything you have into it. If it's not good enough to win every game, so be it. It doesn't make the effort less worthy.

We all know that you have the talent, ability and experience needed to compete against the very best in the sport. But that is not enough. Everyone at this level is talented. If the desire and determination are not there, then what have you done but deny yourself the opportunity to see just how good you can really be?

Walk away from your time at KU knowing that you could not have done any more than you did. Anything less than that is an opportunity you will never get back.

The fans...

Jabez Harlan 6 years, 1 month ago

It is true that for KU to be elite, Elijah Johnson has to be part of the mix. In fact, EJ must step up and play better on both ends of the floor.

The answer would not be to sit him or to not start him. He is a senior and a leader with tournament experience. This year's future is on his shoulders as well as Withey's and Releford's.

I am hoping that the pep talk worked for Perry Ellis as well. KU needs another post to step up and be a scorer other than Withey.

If Perry and EJ can up their production and Withey, B-Mac, and Releford continue their current performance, KU could be very, very good.

Michael Bratisax 6 years, 1 month ago

19-2...I think we already are elite but will agree that some tampering is needed if we want a return trip to the Final Four. Ellis brings far to to the table to only getting minimal return.

I think all of us know that by the time conference play is over, it's time to throw away the freshman label. Certainly Ben is one of those rare players who bring it right from the start but just how good he would have been last year is unknown although I tend to believe he would have made an immediate contribution.

FearlessJayhawk 6 years, 1 month ago

I believe the loss did some good psychologically. We're going to have be totally focused for forty minutes.

Steve Williams 6 years, 1 month ago

A senior says he's got a lot of growing up to do.. No bueno

Jeremy Wilhelm 6 years, 1 month ago

We all have growing up to do... some of us just don't realize it.

Michael Bratisax 6 years, 1 month ago

All of us need to grow through out our lives but with half his senior year already gone, what can we reasonably expect from EJ? Maybe more intensity and less careless mistakes..but that's it. EJ isn't going to make any leaps in the other parts of his game..the time for that is gone. More intensity, less mistakes...maybe that will be enough.

John White 6 years, 1 month ago

In my opinion if we can just get less mistakes, it will make a huge difference. How many offensive possessions have been cut short with bad turnovers recently, or how many points have we given up from those turnovers? Yes, if EJ can play like he did in the tournament last year, this team could be extremely good. However, if he can just stop turning the ball over and distribute it, I think they are still as good as any team in the country.

Tony Bandle 6 years, 1 month ago

Please, all of you..make sure a part of you never "grows up". Never lose the wonder of life that your inner child can bring. There's always hope.

Mark Lindrud 6 years, 1 month ago

EJ knows he needs to grow as the leader and a PG. most of his career has been at the off guard. It's a different mentality and it's not like we are last in the conference with him. We are #5 and first in TheBig 12 with him not playing his best yet. I say the best is yet to come.

Kevin Huffman 6 years, 1 month ago

Sometimes SOMETHING makes someone "turn it on". Hopefully, this was that something for Elijah. Remember the running up & down every step for Jeff after the scoreless game at Mizzou - I think that's right & how he was basically a BEAST for most games since then? For Travis something inexplicable happened after 1st struggling shooting woefully the first about 3-4 gms. this year & he started hitting everything. In retrospect, I BET something definitively changed there - some habit or practice or ritual or something.

Some might need encouragement and some might need some lashing. All need to be motivated and perhaps now they won't look like they're sleepwalking.

To be fair I'm not sure that K.Young was in that game. I think when he wasn't out of there because of foul trouble is when per Elijah's quote up above the team was "standing around". Seems funny that an only 2nd-year, Senior transfer is a leader but in many ways he is for our team.

Michael Johnson 6 years, 1 month ago

As horrible as they played Saturday, they had a chance to tie at end. Withey and Bmac both had 4 TOs. Entire team played really bad defense. Don't put too much into the loss.

Ian Emerson 6 years, 1 month ago

What? Its the seniors no DOUBT. Everyone makes mistakes and Elijah made one. Doesnt mean hes any less of a leader because of it.

actorman 6 years, 1 month ago

One??? Elijah made ONE mistake??? He has the SAME number of assists and turnovers over the last how many games now? This is not just one mistake. That's the problem.

I also find the quotes amazing how about how they had to have a loss to learn their lesson. I mean they basically lost the ISU game; they just got lucky that Ben's last-second shot banked in. How could THAT not have made an impression on them?

Jeremy Hays 6 years, 1 month ago

Elijah made a lot of mistakes but really they didn't lose the ISU game. Just like they didn't basically win the OSU game. It's the execution. Players seem (and I agree with EJ on this quote) very comfortable. When players are comfortable, they don't push past. They don't go beyond what they think they can do and into another level of great. It sucks that a senior, whose draft stock is plummeting, had to wait til a loss at home to figure that out.

I think the 8 losses in Bill Self's 10 years at the helm lead me to believe he knows what he knows what to do. My hope is that next time with a little over 6 mins in the game and with EVERY big man from OSU with 4 fouls. They go back and attack the basket.

Boouk 6 years, 1 month ago

Hopefully this meeting helps Elijah turn it around. I still think if he gets his shooting back to the level it was at in last years NCAA Tournament and he cuts down on the turnovers we're as good as anyone in the country.

ccarp 6 years, 1 month ago

Focus on "next play", EJ. We need you and you can do this. Let's get back to going hard and making the most of every second out there on the court. Play like a senior. Not just because it is your last year, but because you have the ability, the experience, and the poise to do it. You got this, EJ. Rock Chalk!

jgkojak 6 years, 1 month ago

It sounds like he knows something wasn't right - and he will fix it.

All you can ask.

I will say, however, this takes me back to Bucknell - where Self went with an injured Langford when he had RRobinson, Kaun and Jackson sitting on the bench.

Phoggy_Notion 6 years, 1 month ago

I don't see any comparison between EJ's situation this year and Langford's. Langford, whether healthy or injured, was capable of getting a basket for the team whenever necessary. Kaun/Jackson were post players, while RusRob was a freshman pg, so I don't think was every any speculation that Self would/should have played one of them over Langford.

jgkojak 6 years, 1 month ago

Does anyone get the feeling this would have been a great season for KU's Basketball team to be on some season-long reality show?

Phoggy_Notion 6 years, 1 month ago

There isn't enough personality on this year's team. Last year's group would have been a good choice for something like that.

SaltLakeHawk 6 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, and they could call it something KU related... like... "Pay Heed"

DB Ashton 6 years, 1 month ago

This team has always had deficits on the roster that could only be remedied by the specific kind of lost talents and aggressiveness that T Rob and Tyshawn represented -- power inside and speed outside. But this edition's experience and synergy, and terrific coaching, has made them produce better than I believe they are. Elijah is out of position and out of sorts. Sit him? Shift him? Stimulate him? This is why Mr Self makes the big bucks. Me, I sit him. We both briefly reevaluate. Try something new. Bigger? Smaller, with Elijah at the two? Too late, later. Folks will reasonably argue that two losses do not a crisis make. But I don't see this group going far in March as is, at least with any confidence, and no fault of their own. Going to take some strategy and a lot of scrap.

Tony Bandle 6 years, 1 month ago

It's takes a team effort to win and a team effort to lose. I hope each Hawk looks in the mirror.

Jeff...get stronger, Perry..get meaner. Jamari...get more under control. BenMac...get more selfish. Naadir...get ready. Travis...get more authoritive. Kevin...get more focused. EJ....get more confident. AWII...get more swagger. Rio...get more enthusiastic.


actorman 6 years, 1 month ago

The way their season has been going, I would hate to have been TCU all year. But your point is well taken.

Kent Noble 6 years, 1 month ago

I'm sure EJ realizes if his play continues like it has Wednesday at TCU. He knows where he will be playing the next game. Right next Norm Roberts on the bench!!

SaltLakeHawk 6 years, 1 month ago

Fail. My sincere apologies to Norm Roberts. I confused him, for some reason, with Norm Stewart. I know. I know.

Jonathan Allison 6 years, 1 month ago

old habits die hard in a world where societal norms reign supreme.

Michael Bratisax 6 years, 1 month ago

Norm was one of those guys you love to hate then miss him when he is gone.

Cody Riedy 6 years, 1 month ago

The part of his comments that stood out most to me was when he said, "I’m kind of pacing myself". Earlier in the season, maybe still even in November, during one of the game chats, I commented that it seemed like E.J. was trying to pace himself and focus on facilitating, but that he was going to find that he can't turn attack mode on and off. I think that's why he's been a little clumsy and out of control when he's had to turn on the aggression. Like anything, you have to practice and you have to practice at the speed you play, including driving, passing, and playmaking. It also still looks like he gets fatigued at times, which might be the result of the same problem and also results in the same symptoms: slow defense, less explosive, clumsy with the ball, etc.

Quizyes 6 years, 1 month ago

Can't win them all. I will gladly accept a home loss in exchange for a title. We have been playing lately like we thought our name and tradition would win us ball games. That will not be the case in March for sure, hopefully this awakens the desire inside these guys to prove they belong amongst the elite. Also I think he EJ is hurting more than he is letting on, during warm ups when everyone else dives on the floor, he just stands there clapping his hands. I also noticed that Ben did the same thing before the last game, which struck me as odd. Seems like some of the guys are too stiff to dive for the ball on loose balls, it was especially evident with Elijah early in the season. Where is Jerod Haase when you need him?

jaybate 6 years, 1 month ago

Frankly, EJ needs to be told that against TCU, the side is going to be cleared out starting the first possession and he is going to be given the ball and it is his job to go get the first six baskets. Period. Don't come back till he gets them. Don't come out till he gets them. Don't call a time out till he gets them.

EJ's problem, beyond his knees, is clear to me.

He has developed a completely fictitious notion of what a point guard is supposed to do for a team.

EJ thinks he is supposed to be a coach on the floor.

Nothing could be further from the truth.


Point guards find weaknesses and attack them.

All this stuff about "“Everything on the court falls back on me. I never rallied our team at the end of the game. I blame that loss on me 100 percent because no matter what was going on in timeouts on the court, regardless, a senior guard always rallies the team up and gets the fieldhouse to turn up and take care of the job...." is a load of horse dung.

Its all a bunch of intellectualizing and displacement about what he is afraid of doing.

He's deathly afraid of failing at going out and finding the weakness in the other team and attacking it himself, either with dribble drives, or passes, or what have you.

He's afraid of failing.

There isn't any more to it than this.

Its easier to displace about how it all comes down to him, and about how he's responsible for the team and for ridiculously abstract shizzle like field house volume control.

He's a point guard.

He looks around for someone to beat for a basket.

He beats them.

Or he passes it to someone who can.

Or he or the coach call a play from the sideline and they "run the stuff."

He is completely fooling himself about his role. Self wouldn't give up that much control of a team to Hank Iba himself.

Self is a control freak coach.

EJ is scared, insecure point guard.

He just needs to get over his fear of failing, and be disabused of this displacement fantasy of his.

He has to learn a thousand plays.

Self calls most of them.

They don't use but about 30-40 of them in a game.

They play man 2 man all the time.

Phoggy_Notion 6 years, 1 month ago

When an offense is stagnant, the greater number of passes correlates with a lower quality of shot. Give your quickest offensive weapon (naadir) the green light to do his best imitation of Tyshawn/Sherron via top of the circle ball-screens, and watch the number of high % shots develop in the form of layups and the subsequent offensive rebounds, OR trips to the free throw line. This style of ball does not remedy every potential turnover or scoreless possession, but it at least breaks the game down to a pace that favors KU, particularly in a scenario like the one saturday where KU sat on 4 point lead multiple times.

Michael Bratisax 6 years, 1 month ago

'He's afraid of failing' & 'EJ is scared, insecure point guard'

I think afraid of failure is his number 1 problem which leads to his insecurity but he is not a PG. I'm pretty sure HCBS thought EJ, a 5 star shooting guard, would be able to do both and getting Tharpe would be enough to go deep into the NCAA. The failure on Self's end was thinking EJ had the inner fortitude of a Russell Rob. Pure conjecture on my end but I think that EJ had always been successful, the go to guy, the best player on the team. In high school, EJ was the BMOC but in his first year at Kansas he was getting pulled for making bad decisions, inconsistent play and was never given the feeling of success he had previously received.

For some, this makes them stronger. It breaks down their "me" and builds the "team", basically what happens with new recruits joining the military. I would guess that most coaches use this approach in some way.

I think Self may have taken the wrong approach with EJ or maybe circumstances just forced his hand. He has made Elijah a team player first but without having successfully recruited a strong replacement for Tyshawn, the PG and all the responsibility associated with that position was given to EJ out of necessity. Last year was EJ's best year. He knew his role and what was expected from him. We overcame a short bench and fell just inches from winning it all.

I respectively disagree with you jaybate, I think the most successful PGs are floor generals. They set the tone and initiate the offense. At times, I also think they are coaches on the floor, getting players into their proper positions and keeping the team focused. Tyshawn Taylor was our PG from day one. He knew his role and had four years of learning his craft at the NCAA level.

EJ is not a point guard, he is a SG. Maybe a combo guard for short periods at best. When EJ is at the 2 is when we see him at his best. Now is role has changed and his play shows it. I'm sure somewhere in the back of his mind, he remembers getting yanked after every mistake. I think Tharpe needs to be the primary point guard, not only for this year but also for most of next year until Connor or someone else proves to be better.

I'm not going to second-guess HSBS. He is the best by far when it comes to getting the most out of his players but his method will not work with every player every time. This year, Rio and White have been kept on a very short leash. Next year, we will have a team with minimum experience but plenty of talent. To be honest, I want to see how Coach Self's methods will work when he will need to have freshman play for extended periods.

jaybate 6 years, 1 month ago

Wake up, EJ. Morons can play point guard, if they can find a weakness and attack it, or pass it to someone that can attack it.

Morons have played point guard.

Sometimes I wonder if morons don't have an advantage playing point guard, because they don't clutter up their minds with displacements like you are doing.

They just go find a weakness and attack it.

And if they don't do a good enough job, then the coach replaces them with someone else, and they aren't even sure why they are being replaced. That's good, because then when the other guy screws up, and the coach goes back to the moron, the moron just goes out and finds a weakness and attacks it. He doesn't have enough CPU capacity to be afraid of failing.

I played with a stupid point guard one time. It was a great pleasure actually. He couldn't add a lick. His sentence writing was barely intelligible. He didn't have much to say in the huddles, or out for burgers and beers afterwards. He was dumb as post. He had to take the easiest classes imaginable and he had to be given endless help to stay eligible, but he could shoot and dribble and find a weakness. And he never thought twice about failing. It just didn't mean anything to him. And this dumb guy was a sheer joy to play with. He never outsmarted himself. He never tried to coach any of us. He never tried to manipulate us. He never got all mopey about defeats. The only thing that ever really pissed him off was someone blowing by him. It made him play harder.

I don't know whatever became of him, but he was one of the best point guards I ever played with.

But I digress.

To reiterate: what Self needs to do is quit dogging him, quit giving him pep talks, and quit masking his weaknesses, and stand in the huddle before tip off and say, "Against TCU, we are clearing out the side for EJ to go one on one and get us our first six baskets. We don't start running any stuff tonight, until EJ gets us six baskets." Then shoot EJ a nice big smile, turn around and go sit down.

EJ may leave a puddle on the floor right there, but that's okay.

He is a talented basketball player and at 6'4" tall, with the side cleared out, and the quality of point guard TCU will have, he should be able to back his man down to the rim six times and get a basket.

An his teammates would love it, because they would understand exactly what this is all about.

This will restore his self respect to him.

And it will make it so that he doesn't need to do anymore displacement about being the team's on the floor coach; that's a bunch of hooey.

He is our point guard, that's all.

And then we can quickly get on with the business of getting better as a team.

DanR 6 years, 1 month ago

I have to admit, that'd be awesome... maybe not six times but at least three or four. But it'd be even better if he'd have to get the ball to BMac or Releford for an assist six times in a row.

Jack Wilson 6 years, 1 month ago

"To reiterate: what Self needs to do is quit dogging him, quit giving him pep talks, and quit masking his weaknesses, and stand in the huddle before tip off and say, 'Against TCU, we are clearing out the side for EJ to go one on one and get us our first six baskets. We don't start running any stuff tonight, until EJ gets us six baskets.' Then shoot EJ a nice big smile, turn around and go sit down."

Awesome. I vote for that.

Michael Bratisax 6 years, 1 month ago

A lot of people respond well to the pressure a coach puts on him. I really thought Russell Robinson was going to transfer after his first year but he took up the challenge and became an integral part of our championship team. Others, don't do well when challenged by their coach. Micah Downs couldn't make it a single-season.

EJ is somewhere in the middle. When he doesn't have the added pressure and plays at his natural position, we saw last season how well he can be. This year, he seems to have taken a step back but I believe that is due to being the floor leader and finding himself back into the coaches doghouse.

Never wanting to second guess our head coach who seems to get the best out of his players than any other coach but EJ might just be an exception. Tharpe will be at the point next season and the team's most experienced player in terms of minutes played. I say put Tharpe at the point now. Let EJ play where he is at his best. Our best play this year was between Washington State and American. That also was when Tharpe was playing his best and EJ was freer to play his game.

We have been playing some really bad basketball at times lately. We seem soft this year and the other team seems to get to loose balls quicker and rebounds better off of missed threes...basically hustle plays and that is uncharacteristic of Bill Self teams. If Perry Ellis starts playing close to the level he is capable of and if BMac can be a little more selfish, I think start Tharpe at the PG or at least increase his role at that position. I realize how much this could affect our starting rotation and substitution pattern but that's my 'average Joe' opinion.

Phoggy_Notion 6 years, 1 month ago

Jaybate, clearing out for elijah to 'get us baskets' is a great idea on paper, but keep in mind that guys who 'go get baskets' do it primarily by getting to the rim and making layups/getting to the free throw line. EJ is an athletic guard who doesn't play to his strengths, but rather wants to operate exclusively from the perimeter. He loves the 3point shot, and understandably so with such a pure looking stroke, but I believe it is his inability to look for other ways to provide offense when the 3pointer isn't falling that leads to his multi-game offensive struggles, and the 3/13 shooting performances. What ever happened to remedying scoring slumps by working harder to get easier shots(10 ft jumpers, layups, and free throws)? I understand that scoring is not the only issue here, but I strongly feel that it is EJ's confidence and overall productivity will be determined by his ability to score efficiently. Stop with jump passes and no look kicks to the corner, and start utilizing the size and jumping ability for layups and 5ft jumpers. Once the defense realizes that EJ is going for 2 points each time he gets in the lane, passing lanes will open up for better assist opportunities. Though each was different player, the previous 8 seasons' success consisted of aggressive PG penetration. Be difficult to defend!

Phoggy_Notion 6 years, 1 month ago

Lastly,( I said it before and i'll say it again) KU has a real weapon in Kevin Young. His desire to go get offensive rebounds is something that is barely being utilized as a result of our guard's preference to shoot the 3, rather than try and score off the drive and force help defense. If any opponent's bigs have to help-off to contest a shot by our guards, the opportunity for points from off rebounds is going to provide KY and Jamari the opportunity to contribute offensively in ways that few opponents will be able to control. O boards are demoralizing, and if you get KY and Traylor wreaking havoc on the glass, this team's attitude will improve instantly.

Hank Cross 6 years, 1 month ago

No problem telling EJ to get the first few buckets. But, after that - yank him if makes another lazy one-handed pass.

Michael Gentemann 6 years, 1 month ago

Glad to see HCBS isn't giving up or throwing EJ under the bus. Let's see what happens next...

Dyrk Dugan 6 years, 1 month ago

you're right about the fear of failing part jaybate...but you're dead wrong about Self.

he is NOT a control freak coach...quite the contrary, He allows his team quite a bit of freedom on the floor. he wants his PGs to run the show. Roy Williams? there's your "control freak" coach.

sure Bill Self calls plays....every coach does that. what Elijah is not being, is the player on the floor he needs to be ...that is, make the play. period.

four examples: two good, two bad: at the end of the OSU game this weekend, bad. he should have ran up, and shot the three. make the guy think he's driving...which they did. but then he does an extra move...bad. the previous play, he just ran it straight up the floor...layup. good.

vs. MU last year, at Columbia. he came off the "chop" play, we've run at the end of games many times....he was WIDE open to shoot the three...he hesitated...took a couple more worthless dribbles...then shot it off balance...bad. at the end of the ISU game this year....took it right to the basket on a dribble drive...cut it down to one...good.

EJ can make the plays. he's plenty talented, athletic. sure he hasn't been a point guard before...he looked pretty good at Ohio St. he looked fine when we were up 10 in the 2nd half in Manhattan.

we lost a basketball game. we haven't been playing that well leading up to it. we will be fine.

as i've posted earlier, it's much too soon to give up on EJ. the next three games are big..and they will provide plenty of evidence if I'm right or wrong.

johninkc1 6 years, 1 month ago

Remember EJ, NO EJ, NO Final 4 last year. You have been asked to change positions for the team. It is hard to distribute and score at the same pace you did last year when TT was handling the ball. True fans want only the best for you and our team, those that don't, can just go away. I am sure that coach will get all of you where you need to be. In Bill we (I) trust.

hawkfan4life 6 years, 1 month ago

I’m rolling with Elijah as “my guy” too! The kid has put in way too much time and effort, and has too much experience and seasoning for Self to abandon him now. I’m glad that Coach Self calmed down and had Elijah’s back today by saying that he’s sticking with him. The post game interview that coach gave to Gurly and Bob Davis sure sounded like EJ may very well be seeing the bench and not start against TCU. The wound was fresh, and coach was very angry, we’ll chalk it up to that.

What I don’t understand is how quickly our people can turn on our own guys when we drop one game. It happens every year, and every year we go from a super supportive fan base to an extremely critical one in a matter of minutes. I hated losing our winning streak at home too, but c’mon man!

The comments about EJ from our own fan base after the game were really rough. Too rough, in my opinion for a battle tested senior who is obviously slumping and ailing on his “quilted knees”. EJ’s first half dunk is an indication that he has lost a bit of his explosiveness. I think he’s on the mend though, and deserves the chance to play through this slump. And, what really bothers me even more is that nobody ever puts the blame where it is needed…squarely on the shoulders of the coach.

Don’t get me wrong here, I am as big of a Bill Self Fan as anyone in the Jayhawk Nation! But, we all know that there have been instances where HCBS has been out coached. The first half of the OSU game was another instance. Jaybate always says that Self has the tendency to send our team out flat from time to time, and let them try to figure things out on their own. I think he always does this with Oklahoma State and that’s a contributing factor to being so tough for us to win when we play down there. I don’t think that he coaches well against them because that’s his alma mater, but that’s another story.

I think Coach Self sends our guys out flat and dallies around with certain teams until we dig ourselves into a deep enough hole, and then he begins to “coach us up”. You can tell when the team is being lit into and coached hard because we come out of a timeout with extreme focus, and laser sharp precision and accuracy in all of our set plays. KU can erase a fifteen point deficit in a matter of minutes and we have seen it happen a lot! Part of this can be attributed to coaching intensity and adjustments to what the other team is running.

hawkfan4life 6 years, 1 month ago

Self calls the offensive plays and the defensive sets as well, not EJ. He also plays a major role in the establishing the intensity and effort that our guys run our stuff with. When he sends us out flat, I think he lets our guys have a whole lot more freedom to do things on the court. Often times this works because we have really smart, talented, and gifted athletes. Sometimes it bites us in the butt because we don’t adjust quick enough to pull out the W. Anyhow, if this method of coaching means we win 18 games before we have to experience a loss…I’ll accept the L and roll with Self all the way.

On Saturday, the first half deficit, combined with Smart and Brown’s play in the second half was too much for us. My whole point here is that we win and lose as a team. Lay off of EJ because there is no blame here.

AsadZ 6 years, 1 month ago


I just listened to Bill Self press conf. He does not want EJ to worry about scoring. He wants EJ to run the offense and create for teammates. HCBS said that EJ is worrying too much about scoring and that's what causing him to mess up. He believes EJ is worrying too much on not seeing the ball going in the basket and if he does not worry about it, his game will improve.

Jack Wilson 6 years, 1 month ago

Coach Self said this today:

“He’s my guy,” Self said. “I’m not pleased with how he’s played. He’s not pleased with how he’s played. He hasn’t played as good as he’s capable of playing, but I think most quarterbacks are judged by their records rather than their stats and I think in our situation, you should judge our point guard by his record rather than his stats.”

“He is my guy, I’m going to ride him, it doesn’t make any difference what happens statistically, as long as I know he’s trying and cares, he is my guy and will remain my guy, period.”

I posted Sunday my disappointment with Self's comments after the game. This is more like it. Self lost his composure Saturday, threw EJ under the bus, but now has regained it. This is exactly what I was hoping coach Self would have said Saturday. Great job, coach. EJ is our guy.

wolfco 6 years, 1 month ago

Those of you who have participated in college sports can easily translate Self's comments after Saturday's game. Few coaches would have made his comments after 1 bad game or practice, or just because of physical mistakes.

Translated, his comments , most likely, could have been " I have been telling several of you for the past three weeks this was going to happen if you didn't correct the issues in practice, and carry that focus into games." "You chose to ignore the coaching staff, so you dis-respect us, what goes around come around."

You can count on one hand, and have several fingers left, how many times Bill Self has called his players babies, soft, and looked like boys against men in the press, or in an interview. This has been in the making for some period of time, so we shall see if the public tail feather burning brings on an improvement in wanting to be coached up.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 1 month ago

I am all for Self and also like how is building up EJ and the team in an effort to learn and progress. We will be attending the TCU game.

TexasRockChalk 6 years, 1 month ago

LMK where you're sitting. I'll be there too.

Jonathan Allison 6 years, 1 month ago

Bill Self's use of the word we to refer to himself has been about as good this year as we've had since we've been here.

Marcia Parsons 6 years, 1 month ago

In all fairness, his "we" refers to him and his staff, not just to himself.

Jonathan Allison 6 years, 1 month ago

sometimes it refers to he and Cindy I think.

Sam Constance 6 years, 1 month ago

I read your comments on the other thread, and you made some very interesting points, and made me think about a few things I hadn't considered before. Personally, I was not as disappointed as you, because I think there can be some value in the "scorched earth" (to use your terminology) type of comments, as long as they are limited to the period of time right after the game and don't make anything about the loss personal.

First I'll say that I doubt the team hears much about the content of the postgame comments from Coach Self. But even if they do, to me there is some value in the team seeing their coach--the guy who's supposed to steer the ship and stay composed under pressure to help them get to where they want to be--come unhinged, even if slightly. It's good for them to see that he has the kind of competitive, hate-to-lose mentality that he's not going to sugar-coat his dissatisfaction with what he sees as the reasons for the loss. Especially because nothing he said wasn't true; there was one play in the first half where several OSU players were going full-extension trying to get a ball on the floor while most of the Jayhawks stood and watched or tried to pick the ball up off the floor without diving to get it.

I mentioned that it's also important for Self to not make it personal, and I think the fact that he stuck to the things that happened between the baselines is what made it impersonal. Yes, calling his players "babies" could be interpreted as a personal insult, but to me it's just a jolting way to make the point that they were soft.

Of course, the only way his postgame comments can be the constructive, valuable thing that I'm suggesting is if he also follows-up by reaffirming his faith in his guys. It's all well and good to get agitated about your team's poor play--especially when it's the same kind of poor play that they've been doing for several weeks--but you can't go so far as to kill their confidence. Emphasis on the "we are better than we played" part of the diatribe is key, and it seems like Self has done that.

And by the looks of it, he's not going to do anything (frankly) stupid and revoke EJ's starting spot or bench him for an entire game, as some emotional KU fans suggested. At the end of the day, EJ is still managing a 1.5 A/TO ratio, and his other statistics haven't dropped much (if at all) from last year. We are going to live and die with him this year, and I'm okay with that. I'll start worrying when EJ's struggles start translating to overall team failures, and assume that he'll be able to put it together in time for the postseason unless he demonstrates otherwise.

Phoggy_Notion 6 years, 1 month ago

the guy attacks the basket with the intention of completing an and-one play. Looking forward to his contributions next year, though I would love to have him now.

Gary Wirsig 6 years, 1 month ago

He's gonna have to watch out for the charge...

KEITHMILES05 6 years, 1 month ago

As long as EJ looks himself in the mirror every day and takes care of his personal life then on the court will succeed.

mrJohnnySpence 6 years, 1 month ago

My money's on Kansas Feb 20th in Stillwater!

TexasRockChalk 6 years, 1 month ago

My dear late mum who succumbed to cancer several years ago and sent not one, but THREE kids to KU, and would faithfully watch all the KU basketball games with my dad when we were in school, used to say this:

"Son, there will be times in your life when you get knocked down. The true measure of a man is not the number of times you get knocked down, but instead, the number of times you get back up and keep fighting the good fight."

EJ: I would like to pass on this great advice to you. Make us proud on Wed. night and the rest of the season! We'll be there to cheer you on!


mikehawk 6 years, 1 month ago

My son's blog name is TrustYourSelf. I think he's earned it. Let's trust (y)our Self. Show me a kid who cares more than Elijah. He'll grow and he'll be fine. Let's keep things in perspective. If you paid any attention at all, you saw this coming. We hate it, but things have gone stale and we were winning on borrowed time. Every team goes through a slump and so does every player. Elijah has been a point guard a relatively short period of time. Ben has played D-1 basketball a relatively short period of time also and it shows. But because he doesn't have to handle the ball a great deal of the time, we don't say much when he does poor things on both the offensive and defensive ends. If anything, Elijah is putting too much pressure on himself and taking the need to score off of him is a good, concrete way to lesson his load. As fans, some of us may not be sticking by Elijah, but you can bet not only is his coach, but his teammates are, as well. When the chips are down, they are the only people who really matter anyway.

Anyone know more than coach, grab a whistle because there is a team out there who needs your services.

Steve Reigle 6 years, 1 month ago

EJ should not try to take on all the blame for the loss. The loss is a team loss, same as a team win. There's more than one guy on the court. As for EJ as the starter, we saw last tournament what he can do. He is going through a rough period but I believe he'll come out of it and will do well. If you go back and look at all his past comments, never does he put blame on someone else. Never does he make excuses. EJ is a class act and I'm proud to have him on our team. Rock Chalk.

Nick Cole 6 years, 1 month ago

Look, I put this one on EJ just as he does himself. He is our PG, he is a Sr., and he has played a role in games all 4 years. It should not take a loss for him to realize we have been skating on thin ice since conference play began. He should have got on our guys before now. We need to be closing out games and putting teams away. Other KU teams who got up 4 at home would have gone on a run and left no doubt about this game. This is a veteran team. There is no excuse for this kind of poor play and lack of focus. Sure, we may win big at TCU. But I'm more interested to see how we do at home against KSU, then on the road vs OSU. Those games, along with at ISU, will show if we have learned from this. If our next few games are all close games, well, we haven't learned anything from this. Please prove me wrong Jayhawks.

Scott Smetana 6 years, 1 month ago

I wish I could turn around my optimism about EJ as fast as you guys. I'm very skeptical as I think he's a terrific 2 guard and terrible PG. I'm not buying the 'pep' talk. I think Bill's the man, but know he'll stick with EJ regardless of how he plays. We need a playmaker as Withey has trouble creating (and finishing) shots.

Maybe I just need to come to the reality that this is truly our rebuilding year....I'm having fun watching Tharpe, Ellis, and Traylor improve by the game. I see our potential being a lot higher next year.

Martin Shupert 6 years, 1 month ago

The idea that EJ would call a team meeting to call others out for not doing what they were supposed to is a bit of a stretch. He was awful throughout the game. He killed us more than a few times. When things were going bad, he took a 3 early in the shot clock and missed it, of course. It wasn't just a bad play. It was a very stupid play. Put Tharpe at point and stick EJ at #2 and let's see how that goes. We don't have to take him out, or destroy his confidence, but he's not getting the job done at point. Anyone can see that.

actorman 6 years, 1 month ago

I don't know if anyone else has mentioned this, but when was the last time that EJ went up for an alley-oop? Remember how he used to do that every few games? In fact, when is the last time that he did anything athletically spectacular like he used to do on a regular basis?

That makes me wonder if his injury really is worse than he's letting on, or if the after-effects of it have meant that he hasn't been able to recover the athletic ability he used to have.

Jonathan Allison 6 years, 1 month ago

we threw the lob to him on the opening possession and he couldn't finish it, I don't remember if it was a good pass or if it was well-defended, but he's had trouble finishing at the rim all season whether on dunks or layups. He's definitely lost a few inches off his vertical, and he's not the first guy to lose his springs while at KU.

Some players fresh out of HS may appear to have all the skill and athleticism necessary to be professional athletes, but their bodies wear down too fast. Not everyone can play 40 game seasons year after year, let alone 82+ game seasons. Pro-athletes are on a totally different level from the rest.

wrwlumpy 6 years, 1 month ago

Self on Monday said Johnson will remain the No. 5-ranked Jayhawks’ starting point guard.

“He’s my guy,” Self said. “He hasn’t played as well as he is capable of playing. I think in our situation, we should judge our point guard more by his record (19-2) than we do his stats. And I do know this: For us to have any chance of being a national contender and competing at the highest level, your best players have to play well, and he is without question one of our best players. He is my guy. I’m going to ride him, and it doesn’t make any difference what happens, statistically, as long as I know he is trying and cares. He is my guy and will remain my guy, period.”

This was said on his radio show last night and when he was finished with this paragraph, the crowd cheered.

This is what he could do before the knife when he was a two guard instead of a point.

Joe Baker 6 years, 1 month ago

After that dunk, he held a KU jersey up in front of all those KY / Cards fans.

Proud he's a Jayhawk, win or lose, he's a Jayhawk.

Joseph Hansen 6 years, 1 month ago

Or exhibit B: his dunk vs Purdue in the Tournament last year...

Jonathan Allison 6 years, 1 month ago

EJ wants to believe that if he just works harder, practices harder, tries harder, and wants it more that he can will his team to victory. It's the old "Tim Tebow" speech all over again. But he's not Time Tebow. Ths is about playing smarter not harder. He needs to differentiate in his mind the difference between carrying a team and leading the team. He needs to lead the team, and let Withey, McLemore, and Releford carry the team. But, as Jaybate mentioned and as others have mentioned before during the season, he needs to also know the difference between leading a team and coaching the team. Bill Self is really the prophet and Elijah Johnson is the disciple. Bill Self gives him the way, and EJ leads by example. He leads by following. He takes his lead from the coach and the team follows.

Bill Self hasn't shown his hand yet. I think that he's still bluffing us like he's been doing all year. It's barely February so he can bet he's also got a quite few wild cards up his sleeve. This season is far from over and this team is far from the Titanic.

Steve Yeakel 6 years, 1 month ago

Uh Bill, other examples that Jim Harbaugh mid-season switched his starting and backup QB and got to the Super Bowl, John Harbaugh late season got a new offensive coordinator and got to the Super Bowl, you have to know when to fold them as well as when to hold them, you do not have to always stick with things when they are not working. Naadir looks like a lot better PG to me, needs to play a little better D but went through a ridiculous steak of around 20 assists with no turnovers, and definitely better at hitting shots, including big shots, than EJ.

Mick Allen 6 years, 1 month ago

His season shooting % is less than EJ's. His assist to turn ratio is only slightly better than EJ's %. We will not be better replacing EJ with Naadir. When we play the two together we become mediocre to inadequate at 2 positions.

Mick Allen 6 years, 1 month ago

I intended to say when we play EJ and Naadir together, we are mediocre to inadequate defensively at 2 positions

Sam Constance 6 years, 1 month ago

Naadir looks like a "lot better" PG to you?

You need to look a LOT harder.

GabrielMichael 6 years, 1 month ago

It is quite troubling that this newspaper would not allow me to offer a word of encouragement to a certain basketball player, without having the comment removed because I referred to a our creator. Not even the Communist paper in Kansas City would do that. Tolerance in this society is a 1 way street.

Joe Baker 6 years, 1 month ago

Self on Monday said Johnson will remain the No. 5-ranked Jayhawks’ starting point guard.

Thank you HCBS for putting all the opinionated dooms day posters to rest. Now, let's move on and let our pg be the pg.

Rock Chalk EJ

machinegun 6 years, 1 month ago

On the Hill, the wind blows hard in one direction and then the other. You have to stand firm against that wind or you get blown over. Thank you Bill Self!

Kenny Nall 6 years, 1 month ago

“I think sometimes losses are OK as long as you get better through them. I think losing at home, to be honest, was good for us. If I was going to pick to lose on the road or at home, I would pick at home because it would definitely be more of a humbling experience than it would be if it didn’t happen at home. I don’t want to lose — don’t get me wrong — but I think for our team, our mind-set and psyche, I think it was probably good for us to be humbled.”

One of the best things I love about HCBS.

KansasComet 6 years, 1 month ago

EJ is my guy and always will be. Nothings changed here!!!

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